The Tampa Bay Rays cruised to a 13-4 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Friday, thanks to offensive contributions by Steven Souza Jr. and Mallex Smith — who ended the night with two homers, five runs, five RBI, and four stolen bases between the two of them — and a solid start by Alex Cobb.
All told, the Rays hit five homers last night (player/inning/distance):
Steven Souza Jr./1/445 feet
Mallex Smith/4/396 feet
Logan Morrison/4/373 feet
Tim Beckham/5/428 feet
Corey Dickerson/5/427 feet
Tampa Bay has now hit nine home runs in the last two games — the most in a two-game span in franchise history.
Smith, recalled from Triple-A Durham to fill in for the injured Kevin Kiermaier, had an impressive return to the big leagues. In addition to his homer, Smith also singled, scored three times and stole three bases. Per ESPN Stats and Info, he became the second player in Rays history with a homer and three stolen bases in the same game, joining Carl Crawford, who did it in 2006.
I just wanted to come here, and more than anything just not be a liability and play my game, stay within myself, Smith said after the game.
Souza, who entered the ball game in a 1-for-24 skid, had three of the Rays 15 hits and came within a double of hitting for the cycle. Melvin “B.J.” Upton still remains the only Ray to hit for the cycle (in 2009).
Cobb, coming off the worst start of his big league career, relied on his fastball early on — throwing 18 total (16 strikes) and coaxing weak contact with 13 of his heaters — then expanded the zone with his off speed stuff. In spite of what Brooks Baseball might say, Cobb effectively used his changeup early in the game.
There was slight glimpse of it last game in Seattle, but it was such a bummer of a game that you didn’t have much time to dwell on it, said Cobb. I took a few things away from that game and worked on them during the week. Like I said, it feels good to have the right direction going forward not only on that pitch, but all the other ones as well, just to feel comfortable out on the mound.
The right-hander gave up just one run on four hits and a walk over six innings. He walked one.
The New What Next
The Rays and Oakland play Saturday in MLB’s first scheduled doubleheader since July 16, 2011, when the Athletics hosted the Los Angeles Angels. Rays starters are Erasmo Ramirez (3-1, 4.09 ERA, 3.89 FIP) and Matt Andriese (5-1, 3.45 ERA, 4.64 FIP). The Athletics will go with Sean Manaea (5-3, 3.81 ERA, 3.22 FIP) and Sonny Gray (2-2, 4.57 ERA, 3.80 FIP).
Ramirez gave up four earned runs over 4-2/3 innings vs. Seattle; his first loss of the season. The versatile hurler will make his sixth start of the season to open the double header on Saturday. The Rays have won four of Ramirez’s five starts, and the right-hander looks to bounce back.
Manaea extended his win streak to four games with a quality six-inning, two run/four hit effort against the Blue Jays. He struck out seven and walked three, while throwing a career-high 111 pitches. The left-handed hurler — who has relied primarily on his 92 mph four-seam fastball with heavy sink and some tail, a whiffy 85 mph changeup, and a whiffy 81 mph slider this season — blanked the Rays last season over eight string innings, scattering just four hits along the way. Key matchups: Tim Beckham (1-3), Corey Dickerson (1-3)
Andriese will make his return from the DL in the second game of the double header, after being shelved since May 30 when he made an early after 1-2/3 innings with a groin strain. Prior to the injury, Andriese was 4-0 in five starts.
Gray posted seven strong innings against Washington on June 4, allowing three runs on four hits and three walks, while fanning six. However, in his last road start, Gray gave up seven runs on nine hits over 4-2/3 innings. He has been hit or miss against Tampa Bay over seven career starts, going 2-2 with a 4.22 ERA. This season he’s relied primarily on a worm-killer 94 mph four-seam fastball, and a whiffy 93 mph sinker. He’s also mixed in a sweeping 81 mph curveball, an 85 mph slider with exceptional depth, and a hard sweeping 89 mph changeup. Key matchups: Tim Beckham (2-2, HR, RBI), Corey Dickerson (2-5, HR, 3 RBI), Evan Longoria (6-20, 2B, HR, 3 RBI)
Rays 6/10/17 Game One Starting Lineup
Rays 6/10/17 Game Two Starting Lineup
— The Rays added pitcher Chih-Wei Hu from Triple-A Durham as the club’s 26th man for the doubleheader. They have optioned Ryan Garton back to Durham to make room for Matt Andriese, who will pitch in the nightcap.